Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF), a not-for-profit foundation of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), recently announced that Court Theatre artistic director Charles Newell is the recipient of the 2013 Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in theatre. The award heralds accomplishment to date and promise for the future, artistic vision, and deep commitment to a region outside of New York. It carries an unrestricted grant of $5,000 to the individual recipient. The award will be presented to Mr. Newell on Monday, November 4, 2013 at a reception at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. "To receive The Zelda Fichandler Award from SDCF means the world to me,” said Newell. “My very first theatre-going memories are of my mother taking me to Zelda's Arena Stage. The daring theatre she created and produced, the singular artists she championed, the impact her art made on her community: these all have been a beacon of inspiration to me. For twenty years, I have been fortunate to build a life in the theatre here in Chicago, seeking to follow Zelda's example. I am very proud to be a member of this most vibrant theatre community, and am constantly inspired by our artists and patrons.” A peer review committee selected this year's recipient from nominees from the Central region of the United States. Selection Committee Chairperson Chay Yew noted, "It's an honor to give this year's Zelda Fichandler Award to Charlie Newell. His work in this region has been extraordinary and influential. Through his remarkable leadership, his brilliant direction, and his genuine dedication and desire to make a difference, he is continually changing the Chicago theatrical landscape. Always giving fresh interpretations to the classics and committing to cultural inclusion, he has opened our eyes of how to view the classics in context with contemporary America. His work has inspired us all - audience and artists alike." The Fichandler Selection Committee comprises professional directors and choreographers; as part of this year’s committee, Yew was among theatre luminaries that included Lou Bellamy, Norma Saldivar, and Dominique Serrand. Through this award, named after Zelda Fichandler, a founder of the American regional theatre movement, SDCF aims to recognize the profound impact of the founders of regional theater and honors their legacy. The award is given regionally on a rotating basis and complements SDCF’s “Mr. Abbott” Award, presented bi-annually in New York to recognize lifetime achievement, and the Joe A. Callaway Award, given annually for distinguished direction and choreography in non-Broadway productions in New York. These three awards are the only awards given to theater directors and choreographers by their peers. In addition to Newell, this year’s committee elected to honor four finalists: Peter Brosius in Minneapolis, Jeff Church in Kansas City, Rebecca Holderness in Milwaukee, and Kimberly Senior, a fellow acclaimed Chicago director.
Charles Newell has been artistic director of Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over 40 productions. He made his Chicago directorial debut in 1993 with The Triumph of Love, which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. He has also directed at Goodman Theatre (Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll), Guthrie Theater (Resident Director: The History Cycle, Cymbeline),the California and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals, Juilliard, and New York University. He has served on the Board of Theatre Communications Group, as well as on several panels for the NEA. A recipient of the 1992 TCG Alan Schneider Director Award, Newell was also honored in 2012 by The League of Chicago Theatres with their Artistic Achievement Award.